Focus on the Positive
Although it seems like it would be common sense, focusing on the positive rather than the negative is not always as easy as it sounds. It takes a deliberate attempt and focus to not only gain insight into your employees primary strengths, but also to spend as much if not more energy on improving these skill sets rather than only investing time, energy and training on the areas where they struggle.
I am not advocating ignoring the areas that need improvement, certainly, this is also an important point to focus on however, and if your employees’ strengths are heightened they have the potential to be even better contributors to the organization and to your team.
Help Develop Employee Strengths – Not Weaknesses
Abridged: www.about.com; By Susan M. Heathfield
A management philosophy, that flies in the face of conventional thinking, compels you to help employees develop their strengths by deliberate practice. This is a substitute for helping employees develop their weaknesses, a concept more traditional in management thinking.
This theory was proposed by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman in in First, Break All The Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently as a result of the Gallup organization’s interviews with 80,000 effective managers.
On top of trying to complete their daily work and achieving their annual goals, employees have a finite amount of time for development. Spend the time on what matters. Develop employee strengths – not weaknesses, and in the process, train your management philosophy and company culture.
Using myself as an example, I’m good with people and good at conveying common sense, applicable information. I’m not very good with mathematical story problems though I can add columns of numbers like a speed demon. No matter what, I will never be good at solving complex mathematical problems. Could I get better? Probably. But, why not spend my time honing my strengths? I’ll bet you have a parallel in your life?
Yet, the traditional approach to developing employees, one of the critical factors in employee motivation, has been to identify weaknesses, often during an annual performance appraisal meeting. The employee is then sent to training or just told to “get better” at whatever his or her weak area is. Now, if the area of weakness is critical to the employee’s job success, developing the weaker area might make sense. But, more likely, the employee is in the wrong job. Consider matching the employee’s best skills to your company needs in a different job.
In another personal example, I have always been a good writer. But, strengthening that skill over the past eight years, writing online and for publications, has made me a better writer and a faster writer. Writing is definitely a skill that can be developed if you approach it with deliberate practice.
Once I started writing every single day, with hours of practice and a deliberate commitment to growth, I continued to develop the strength. I still work on my writing every day. I’m sure you have a parallel in your life – or you could. What skill should you develop daily for your own career and your employer’s needs?